Seeing Southeast Arizona
Feb 25, 2010
|When we awoke Monday morning, it was raining and had rained all night. We had huge puddles under much of the trailer and especially the hitch area. We tried to wait out the rain, thinking it would let up, but to no avail.
Ed dressed in the rain gear with the rubber boots, and hitched up in the rain and puddles. By the time we were set to go, Ed had 2 pair of gloves completely saturated. It rained and blew (windy) most of the way south to St David. So much for the Arizona sun shine.
St David is about 6 miles south of Benson on the road to Tombstone (Hwy 80). The RV Park is a Western Horizons park and our space is on a plateau at the back edge of the park so we are next to the desert. Great spot with great views of the desert and mountains. After our exciting day Monday, we relaxed Tuesday with Ed doing some consulting work while Judie did the laundry and some trailer cleaning.
Wednesday we went on a day trip to Tombstone and Bisbee. We had been to Tombstone a few years ago so we did not go to Boot Hill. We parked and walked the streets of Tombstone, going into some of the shops and enjoying the entertainment by the locals dressed in period clothing. This really takes you back to a lot of the early western movies and TV programs like Gunsmoke.
We then ventured down the highway to Bisbee, which is an old mining town built in a canyon. Parking was tough at noon with all the visitors in town, so when we found a space we did a lot of walking. Our first stop was the visitor center to get information on what to see and where to eat lunch. We lunched in a local cafe that makes their own soup and bread. We shared a table with an interesting couple who had spent 10 years traveling the US as he worked as a surveyor. They had actually spent several months in the Eureka/Garberville area.
After that pleasant visit, we walked up the main street canyon a half mile to the Catholic Church to view the 27 stained glass windows. Some of the windows are 30 feet high and truly amazing. The technique used required painting the glass to add a lot of detail. Considering the church was built in 1917, the stain glass windows were quite a project.
We visited some of the shops on our way back down main street. Judie also enjoyed taking pictures of the homes, as they are built on the hillside, with huge flights of stairs.
We then went on a mine tour at the Queen Mine. This was a real experience for Judie who had not been underground more than twice in her lifetime. Ed has walked several tunnels as part of his hydro work. They gave us hard hats, lights with 6 pounds batteries, and heavy rain coats as part of the mine safety program. It is 47 degrees in the mine, so we appreciated the heavy coat!
We rode on the mine train (cowboy style) by straddling a center padded plank and rode 1600 feet into the mine. We stopped at the 400 foot point and walked into a side tunnel for a bit of mine education. We got off and walked again at the 1600 foot point before traveling out. At the 1600 foot point we had 950 feet of rock above us. The mine has 7 levels, the tour stays on level 3. In the 1600 feet we travelled, there was only 4 feet change in elevation. What an enjoyable tour and very educational with the tour leader being a retired miner.
Thursday we worked around the trailer in the morning and explored the RV Park with a nice long walk. In the afternoon we went to the Kartchner Caverns State Park. These caverns were not discovered until 1974 by 2 AZ students looking for caverns. Here's a side-note! The cave was on the ranch of the Kartchner family! The students were trespassing on private property, but thought they were working on public property!! They explored the cave but kept the find quiet in order to protect it from the public.
The State purchased the land in 1988 but did not have the first tour until November 1999. Extensive planning and construction of alternate accesses and pathways was required to make the accesses safe and handicap friendly. They continue to be very concerned about damaging the environment in the caverns and have gone to great lengths in the design, construction and tours to protect the cave environment. Unlike the underground mine tour at 47 degrees, the caverns were 80 degrees with very high humidity from all the water in the caverns. The formations, including veils, columns,stalagmites and stalactites are truly something to see. Our tour leader is very knowledgeable, giving us a real geology lesson along with the history of the mine. Another great choice for an afternoon adventure, we recommend this tour to anyone in the area.
Note to all, Judie has tried a new way to upload pictures, hope you enjoy the addition of more pictures!!